Women are exhorted to regularly examine their breasts in order to check out for early-stage breast cancer.
But this time-honoured advice may need to be reconsidered after a study has conclusively shown that self-examination does no good at all. In fact, women who do examine their breasts are subject to unnecessary anxiety and medical investigations when they discover benign lesions, or find a lump and fear the worst.
A study from Shanghai, which involved 266,000 women, found that those who self-examine were as likely to die from breast cancer as women who do nothing. If they have been through the medical mill once to discover a lump is benign, they are less likely to report another lump, even if it later turns out to be malignant (Source: J Natl Cancer Inst Cancer Spectrum, 2002; 94: 1445-57).